The Laundromat

Steven Soderbergh's put himself in a weird position. The insanely prolific, insanely diversified filmmaker—sometimes he's making one of the Ocean's movies, sometimes he's making Magic Mike, sometimes he's making The Knick, sometimes he's making Traffic, sometimes he's producing Bill & Ted 3, sometimes he's making booze—is so good, at so much, that just any project he takes on is worth getting excited about. Such were the expectations for his latest, the Netflix-bankrolled The Laundromat, a look at the Panama Papers scandal, adapted by screenwriter Scott Z. Burns—who's previously worked with Soderbergh on The Informant!, Contagion, and Side Effects—and boasting a cast with the likes of Meryl Streep, Gary Oldman, Antonio Banderas, Sharon Stone, Jeffrey Wright, and more. (Even Will Forte pops up, for one entirely too-brief cameo.) Maybe it was wrong to expect something along the lines of Adam McKay's excellent The Big Short, which examined a similarly complicated matter with sharp, gutsy wit, but where it should cut, The Laundromat merely leaves a faint bruise. Wrangling together a handful of storylines—held together by commentary from the legitimately hilarious/reprehensible duo of high-level con artists played by Oldman and Banderas—The Laundromat never gels into a whole, and as good as some segments and characters are (Meryl! of course Meryl!), the end result feels surprisingly hollow. Which, given the elaborate bullshit schemes that were revealed by the Panama papers, is fitting, I guess. Maybe this story should all feel like a house of cards. But still.

by Erik Henriksen
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Credits
Director
Steven Soderbergh
Cast
Gary Oldman, Meryl Streep, Antonio Banderas